What Does SCOTUS Decision on DOMA Mean for Married Same-Sex Couples Living in States that Ban Gay Marriage?

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In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down DOMA declaring it “unconstitutional [and]…a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

What Does This Mean?

Well, it means that the American government must now recognize same-sex marriage on a federal level. Therefore, same-sex couples, who are legally married in states that recognize their marriage, are now eligible for federal benefits. They don’t have to pay inheritance tax. They get social security survivorship and federal income tax benefits just to name a few. For a list of the 1,138 federal rights of marriage, click here.

This is a huge win for married gay couples everywhere, and I can’t tell you how excited I am as well.

Close but more excited than that!

Close but I was more excited than that!

This is about right!

Yeah, that’s about right!

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder:

What Does the Decision Mean for Married Gay Couples who Don’t Live in a State that Recognizes Same-Sex Unions?

First of all, it means that my husband and I are still not married in Texas, which has defined a marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

I know, right?

I know, right?

This will hold true for similar couples living in the other 36 states that do not recognize same-sex unions.

However, on a federal level, married couples like my husband and me will be able enjoy the federal benefits that had been previously denied to us. So while our state doesn’t recognize my marriage, my country now does.

That’s definitely a step in the right direction.

When is a Penis Not a Penis?

Well, the answer to that question is simple for m/m authors and readers. When you are reading about a penis in gay romance. In a standard m/m book, there are penises flying around all over the place.

I know! Who could ask for anything more?

I know! Who could ask for anything more?

Yet the word “penis” is typically never used. We can all understand why. “Penis” is a cold, anatomical term, and in a good m/m book, authors want to produce heat not a chill, and readers expect to be aroused not anesthetized.

I don’t want to read about how John licked the head of Gary’s penis.

Boooooring!

Boooooring!

However, when John starts licking the head of Gary’s cock, well,

interested-cat

M/m readers (and authors) love a nice hard cock or dick. That’s a given.

So, then what’s wrong with more flowery terms for a good stiff one?

Most m/m readers HATE (I can’t emphasize that word enough) more poetic descriptions of a penis. I know this from personal experience. I have to admit that in my first book, I used more flowery descriptions, but that was because I thought readers would get tired of reading about Justin’s cock or Spencer’s dick. I was wrong.

From some well-written reviews, I learned that if  readers came across a “throbbing member” or a “steel hard rod,” they cringed. If a “swollen manhood” gets anywhere close to them, they bat it away.

Yes, it's true!

Yes, it’s true!

 

This holds true for other anatomical body parts such as ass and balls. Plundering a nice tight butt as a pair of balls slap against his ass is a SCORE! But if it’s a “hole” that’s being pummeled as “jewels” smack around, it’s a fail.

Flowery and poetic descriptions of genitalia is a standard in het romance. Why then do most readers of gay fiction not feel the same way?

I think it’s because gay sex (and maybe even the readers who love to read about it) enjoy the primal, animalistic quality of man-on-man sex. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that sex between a man and a woman isn’t primal or can’t be portrayed that way. I just think there is an inherent beast like quality to two men rutting around each other and going at it like two bucking broncos.

Yeah, something like that!

Yeah, something like that!

In those instances, phrases like “throbbing member” just don’t work, but a nice hard dick will always do the trick.

M/m fiction is an escape, a fantasy about how two men fall in love and have some great sex, but within that fantasy, I think readers enjoy the reality of actual verbiage used during sex. Men don’t grab each other’s “raging manhoods,” and their hands don’t travel below the belt to his “lower half.”

Men grab each other’s cocks. It’s that simple, and it’s that simplicity (and frankness) that m/m readers prefer.

Those are just my thoughts on the subject. What do you think?

Why Authors Need an Author Brand

As a relatively new author in the writing business, I’ve discovered I have a lot to learn. When my first book was published in October 2012, I was naturally ecstatic.

Yep, that's about how broad my smile was

Yep, that’s about how broad my smile was

After all, I had achieved a very important goal I set for myself when I decided I wanted to be published. I thought all I had to do to be successful was just keep writing and getting my books out to the readers.

I was

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There are so many fantastic authors out there in the m/m genre, and as a new guy, people had no idea who Jacob Z. Flores was. I had no clue that I needed to tell them. Sure, I wrote up an author bio that gave readers some insight to who I was, but I didn’t do anything else. After all, I didn’t see myself as this big corporate entity like Apple or McDonalds.

Why would little old me need to set up a brand?

Well, I needed to let readers know who I was, and that’s what an author brand does. It tells readers what type of books they can expect to read from me. It also gives them something to remember. After all, we associate the golden arches with McDonalds and the bitten apple with, well, Apple. I had given my readers nothing to associate with me.

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Luckily, a dear friend and fellow author pointed out what I wasn’t doing. She became my Yoda, and I her willing padawan.

And her first question was a doozy!

Who are you as an author?

She had me take a good, hard look at myself. Not just the person I was at home, but the person I was as an author. I needed to discover what there was about me that set me apart from the other amazing authors out there.

Let me tell you, that was not only difficult but terrifying. I had no clue what set me apart from everyone else. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing unique about me. So, I turned to my friends and asked them how they would describe me.

Talk about opening a can of worms!

Talk about opening a can of worms!

I freely admit that I can be pretty stubborn and pissy at times, but did my best friends really have to jump all over those qualities right off the bat? Apparently so! It’s a good thing I love each and every one of them! Once they were done giving me a hard time, I learned some interesting things about myself. I won’t bore you with all the details, but there was consensus on the fact that I could be very sweet but also very spicy.

That was something I could build on!

Like a good padawan, I discussed being sweet and spicy with my Yoda. What did she say?

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Yeah, so she didn’t like the sweet and spicy that much. But, hey, it was my first try. Luke Skywalker didn’t lift his space ship the first time he tried on Yoga’s swamp planet. I couldn’t expect to be successful on my first attempt either!

But I was on the right path. And through extensive training in the force, the phrase “sinfully charming” was born, a better combination of sweet and spicy that was neither feminine nor generic.

What does “sinfully charming” mean as my brand?

Well, it tells readers that I’m nice and also naughty, and that they can expect a combination of those qualities in their interactions with me, and in the books that I write. It also gives me an excuse to share all those photos of hot, barely dressed men on my social media sites and on my blog. Not that I needed an excuse, but now, I can say it’s just part of my brand. 🙂

YAY!!!!

YAY!!!!

But, I wasn’t done yet. As my Yoda explained, I had defined myself but I had more work yet to accomplish.

I hear ya, Homer!

I hear ya, Homer!

What do I have to do now?

Create the Brand, I Must

But wait? Isn’t that what I just did?

Apparently, not! I had only just begun. You see, I now had to think about the colors that would be associated with the brand, and the image that I wanted people to associate with Jacob Z. Flores, the author. This was pretty important.

Colors are powerful association tools. McDonalds’ colors are red and yellow. Apple’s color is white. We remember that because that’s a part of their brand. Now, I had to decide what colors I wanted readers to associate with me.

At this point, I became overwhelmed and just wanted to rush through the process. My Yoda, however, would have none of that.

patience-yoda

Yoda was right. I had to take my time. My author brand would be with me forever. I couldn’t rush the process. This was the career I wanted. After all, writing is what I want to do full-time, and I needed to make sure I got the brand right. Because my brand was going to be with me a very long time.

I took a deep breath and asked myself: what did I envision when I thought of “sinfully charming”?

Well, the image I saw in my head was a hot, barely dressed man in a tuxedo. That meant black and white were definitely in the running. How charming is a man in a tux? Yum! As for the sinful part, well, red was the natural answer.

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Finally, I’d done something right!

Not only had I gotten my colors, but I also had my visual. Now, all I needed was a tagline that captured the “sinfully charming” nature of my author persona and my books. Once I had that, Yoda put me in contact with the fabulous A.J. Corza who took the abstract ideas and created this.

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Which I think perfectly captures the “sinfully charming” author brand.

So, now I have my brand, and my website now reflects it as well. My readers have an idea of who I am and what they can expect from me and my books, and hopefully, I’ve given them an image they can remember. 😉

By combining that with well-written books, I’m doing my best to carve out a place for Jacob Z. Flores in the world of m/m fiction.

And that is part of the business.

P.S. This post has been

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Vote for “3”!

I’m so excited! The cover for my novel “3” is up for the June 2013 cover contest at You Gotta Read.

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3

If you’re so inclined, I would appreciate any votes. 🙂 It’s #15 on the list. Here’s the link, and thanks in advance. ♥

http://yougottaread.com/vote-now-for-the-june-2013-cover-contest/

Books Books and More Books Interview

Today, I’m interviewed over at Books Books and More Books. It was a good interview and lots of great questions were asked about my writing process, author bucket list, and writing advice. I also talk about my upcoming projects and share an excerpt from Moral Authority. If you’re interested in reading the interview, click here.

I hope to see you there. 🙂

Love in the Most Desolate of Places

I’m so excited because today I’m over at The Novel Approach, one of my most favorite blogs, which just happens to be run by the super fabulous Lisa. TNA is also home to other fabulous peeps such as Tina Marie and Jackie and my super adorable hubby. How could I not love it over there?!?!

Now, why am I over at TNA, besides the fact that Lisa and I love to drink? Well, I was lucky enough to be included as part of Wilde City Press week over at TNA. I talk about my WC release Moral Authority, and I even have a video of me reading an excerpt. To see my post about “Love in the Most Desolate of Places,” and watch the video click here. Also, the always fabulous Jackie posted a review of Moral Authority. You can read the review by clicking here.

Choose My Inspiration Winner Revealed!

I can’t believe that it’s time to reveal the winner of the Choose My Inspiration contest. It seems like just yesterday my husband and I were poring through the studs in our stable, painstakingly searching for the best stallions to trot before the public. It was a long, drawn out process of staring at half-naked, gorgeous men, but that was the sacrifice I was willing to endure for all of you.

I’m such a selfless individual, aren’t I? 😉

But alas, my sacrifice has finally borne fruit. After a long five-week battle, a victor has emerged.

Here is My Inspiration

Stud #16

Stud #16

And what an inspiration he is! Just look at that body! And the fur, well, that just melts my butter! I’m definitely inspired to write loads of fun for this stud. (Yes, pun intended)

But I wasn’t the only one who was inspired by Stud #16. He won 35% of the final round votes, so obviously many of you liked him too. If you’re interested in seeing those final tallies, click here.

As the winner, Stud #16 will be the inspiration for one of my main characters for the first book of my upcoming Key West Series. That novella is set to release in 2014.

But wait there’s more! This stud needs a name, and one lucky commenter won the right to name Stud #16.

What’s Stud #16’s Name?

Well, thanks to Jacquie Sawyer, Stud #16 shall now be known as Alan Bruce!

Alan will be having lots of fun in Key West, and I hope you will follow Alan into the pages of the first book of the Key West Series.

Thanks again to everyone for participating. Who knows? We might just be doing this again!

 

What’s New at My Blog!

Well, for those of you who’ve been to my blog before, you can already see what’s new here at “From Gay to Z.” Thanks to the fabulous, A.J. Corza (who is well worth the nominal fee), my site has a sleeker, more user-friendly appearance. When I first put my blog together, I had absolutely zero clue what I was doing. If I liked something, I added it. It was as simple as that. Apparently, that was problematic!

Oops! Sorry about that everyone!

Oops! Sorry about that everyone!

My “just add it” approach apparently made my site a bit too much and not very PC friendly. Who knew?

A.J. knew that’s who!

She went through my site and made it all prettiful. I know that’s not a word, but I like it and use it often.

Now, “From Gay to Z” is easier to navigate without all those distracting plug-ins that I thoroughly enjoyed because they were shiny and new. I’m easily distracted by things like thatBut hey, I own it, and I…

squirrel-2

What was I saying again? Oh yeah, my blog’s new look. That’s right!

I hope you’ll take a look around and let me know what you think. I’m pretty excited about the rico suave new design.

Also, tomorrow, I’ll be announcing the winner of the “Choose My Inspiration” Contest. So make sure you come back to see who won!

Contest: Choose My Inspiration FINAL ROUND

It’s hard for me to believe, but here we are in the FINAL ROUND of the “Choose My Inspiration” contest. Just a few short weeks ago, I started parading the studs in my stable for your votes, and now four weeks later, we have the final four hunks, one of whom will be the inspiration for the first novel of my new series.

I’ve told you over the last month that the new series will consist of three novellas set in a destination location just like my upcoming Provincetown Series. Today, I finally announce the locale for the new series. It will be set in Key West, Florida. If you’ve ever been you know exactly how much fun life on the Keys can be. If you’ve never had a chance to visit, perhaps my new series will inspire a future vacation.

But enough talk about this new series, let’s talk about

The Voting for the Final Round

Just like in previous weeks, you will only be able to vote for ONE of the four remaining studs. The stud with the most votes at the end of the voting period will be the photo I use to inspire me to write one of the main characters for my upcoming Key West Series.

Voting will occur between June 5-June 17. The voting will be open for almost two weeks to allow as many votes as possible, but also because I will be on vacation and away from my blog for a good week.

When I return from vacation, I will tally up the votes and see which stud has won.

The Winner

Not only will the winning stud be my inspiration, but one lucky commenter will be able to name that character for the Key West Series.

All you have to do is leave a comment on the “Choose My Inspiration” Final Round post on my blog. One lucky commenter will be chosen, and that commenter will have the right to name the character and see that name used in the book.

How much fun is that?

Please keep in mind though, only comments left on my actual blog will be eligible to win. Comments on Facebook pages and other social media sites will not count.

Let’s Ring in the Final Round

Here are the four studs who have earned the most votes over the past four rounds. Which one will win?

Will it be the tattooed stud from round 1? Will the adorable twink from round 2 obliterate the competition with his cute bubble butt? Perhaps the sexy, smoldering cowboy from round 3 will ride off into the sunset in my new book or will the scruffy stud from round four devastate the competition with his hairy manliness?

You will decide.

Don’t forget to click on the pic to see bigger…images. 😉 Additionally, please remember that in order for your vote to count, you must click on the radio button corresponding to your hunk below the images and then click on the vote button. Only votes cast in this manner will count toward choosing my inspiration. 🙂

Which of these 5 guys would you want to be a main character in my upcoming series? (FINAL Round)

  • Stud #16 (35%, 26 Votes)
  • Stud #7 (28%, 21 Votes)
  • Stud #14 (20%, 15 Votes)
  • Stud #5 (18%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 74

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Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered for a chance of naming the character!

When Inspiration May Be Considered Taboo

I had such a busy weekend that I completely forgot to post that I was over at ARe Cafe on Saturday. June is LGBT Month at ARe Cafe, and I was lucky enough to be one of the featured authors for the month. I talk about how I react to inspiration that some might find taboo. I had a great time over at ARe Cafe, so if you’d like to stop by and see what I have to say, click here.